GAO Examines Patients’ Frustrations with EHRs | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

GAO Examines Patients’ Frustrations with EHRs

July 24, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

Following up on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report from earlier this year on patients’ accessing their health records, a new blog post from the agency explores some of the reasons why people don’t use their electronic health records (EHRs) more.

Indeed, a GAO report from the spring noted that healthcare providers who participated in the Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program offered nearly 9 out of 10 patients the ability to access their health information online. However, GAO found that relatively few of these patients accessed their records online, and patients typically did so in response to a medical visit. To this end, the GAO WatchBlog blog, via direct interviews with patients, just recently examined some of the reasons why people don’t use their electronic health records, even if they do have access.

For some of the core reasons mentioned by patients, as reported by GAO, healthcare providers usually give patients access to their medical records through a patient portal. However, patients often receive access to a different portal for each provider they visit, and must manage separate login information for each one. The patients GAO interviewed were frustrated with the amount of time and effort it took to set up these portals, understand each portal’s user interface, and manage all the different passwords, according to the department’s report.

What’s more, most providers routinely offer access to lab test results, information about allergies, and current medications. However, patients said that the information available to them was incomplete and inconsistent across providers, and were unclear about whether it could be electronically downloaded, transmitted, or aggregated in one place.

Further, patients did say that they were able to use these portals to better communicate with their healthcare providers, track health information, and share this information with other providers. GAO found that patients usually accessed their records before or after a visit with their provider. Patients also described using these portals to access “convenience features,” such as appointment scheduling and reminders, and medication refill requests, according to the report.

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



Analysis: Healthcare Ransomware Attacks Decline in First Half of 2018

In the first half of 2018, ransomware events in major healthcare data breaches diminished substantially compared to the same time period last year, as cyber attackers move on to more profitable activities, such as cryptojacking, according to a new report form cybersecurity firm Cryptonite.

Dignity Health, UCSF Health Partner to Improve the Digital Patient Experience

Dignity Health and UCSF Health are collaborating to develop a digital engagement platform that officials believe will provide information and access to patients when and where they need it as they navigate primary and preventive care, as well as more acute or specialty care.

Report: Digital Health VC Funding Surges to Record $4.9 Billion in 2018

Global venture capital funding for digital health companies in the first half of 2018 was 22 percent higher year-over-year (YoY) with a record $4.9 billion raised in 383 deals compared to the $4 billion in 359 deals in the same time period last year, according to Mercom Capital Group’s latest report.

ONC Roundup: Senior Leadership Changes Spark Questions

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has continued to experience changes within its upper leadership, leading some folks to again ponder what the health IT agency’s role will be moving forward.

Media Report: Walmart Hires Former Humana Executive to Run Health Unit

Reigniting speculation that Walmart and insurer Humana are exploring ways to forge a closer partnership, Walmart Inc. has hired a Humana veteran to run its health care business, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Value-Based Care Shift Has Halted, Study Finds

A new study of 451 physicians and health plan executives suggests that progress toward value-based care has stalled. In fact, it may have even taken a step backward over the past year, the research revealed.